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Gin surge gives rise to Prohibition

Primary Industries

A NAVY strength gin believed to be the most potent in the Southern Hemisphere has been awarded an international gold medal less than a month after it was launched.

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Boutique South Australian gin distiller Prohibition Liquor Co collected the award for its Bathtub Cut Gin – the highest overproof gin ever produced in Australia – at the Melbourne International Spirits Competition last month.

The 69 per cent gin was released on June 23 and follows the success of the company’s 42 per cent original small batch premium Prohibition Gin, which launched in December 2015.

Founded by mates Adam Carpenter and Wes Heddles, the company’s original gin – which won a Silver Medal in Melbourne – contains 11 botanicals including juniper, lemon myrtle, wormwood, pink peppercorns, coriander seeds, ginger, blood orange, ruby red grapefruit, green tea, lavender and vanilla.

The gin is made under contract by Brendan Carter at Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills and transported to the company’s base in an inner Adelaide suburb where it is bottled and labeled by hand.

Carpenter, a graphic designer by trade, said the Prohibition theme was an appropriate fit as he and Heddles referred to themselves as bootleggers.

“It takes about a week to make a gin and that’s why in prohibition days it was such a good thing. You could make it quickly, you could make it at home and you could make it in the bathtub,” he said.

“From a branding perspective it was playing on the mystique of the prohibition era but still being contemporary, high quality and at a premium shelf price.

“We believed that bootlegging philosophy for us was right. Gin’s the fastest growing spirit in the world and this growth in gin demand is unforseen since prohibition days so it’s like the new era prohibition.”

The Bathtub Cut will now contest the New York International Spirits Competition in October.

Carpenter said the biggest challenge was to make the overproof gin drinkable neat at 69 per cent.

“The main element that really does the work for making it approachable is cassia bark, Chinese cinnamon, which helps to take the heat away,” he said.

“We’ve also put star anise in there and really pushed up the wormwood, stripped back some of the other elements and punched up the citrus.

“Everything had to be punchier because at 69 per cent you’re combatting a lot of alcohol.” 

It surpasses West Winds’ Captain’s Cut (63 per cent) and Four Pillars’ Navy Strength (58.8 per cent) as the strongest gin in Australia. Carpenter said he believed it to be the strongest in the southern hemisphere.

“It’s completely different to anything else on the market, which is great. The overproofs are really seeing a spike in demand and there’s definitely a thirst for it.

“It’s not in your face – people taste it and say they can’t believe it’s 69 per cent because it’s so approachable.”

Prohibition Gin is packaged in bottles imported from France, sealed with Italian corks and feature quirky inside out labels.

It is distributed in South Australia by Options Wine Merchants and nationally by Cerbaco.

“We’ve bottled about 1500 bottles of our original gin and now winning that Gold we know the demand will be there for the Bathtub Cut. We’re bottling our second batch now to make sure so we’ve got enough product,” Carpenter said.

“It’s certainly outstripped anything we thought we would be doing.

“I’ve got friends who are winemakers and they sort of see us like tourists in the booze trade, we just sort of jumped in not really knowing what we were doing but it’s working and we’re enjoying every minute of it.”

The original Prohibition gin retails for $89 a bottle while the Bathtub Cut is priced at $115.

Prohibition will be at the Indie Spirits event in Sydney in September, Junipalooza at Melbourne’s Meat Markets in October and its doppelganger event, Juniperlooza at Melbourne’s South Bank in November. 

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story. Copied to Clipboard

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